Behind Her Back by Jane Lythell #BlogTour #BookReview #QandA

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What’s it about?

Liz Lyon is a television producer and busy single mum to a teenage daughter. She works at StoryWorld, the UK’s favourite morning show. As both confidante and team leader, she is the person tasked with controlling the conflicts and tantrums that flare up off-air. Having just started dating again, she’s also having to deal with a few conflicts and tantrums at home…

Following a blissfully peaceful two-week holiday in Italy, Liz has returned to find a new colleague has joined the station. Lori Kerwell has been brought in to increase the show’s profitability. But Liz is not sure that’s the only thing on Lori’s agenda.

As Lori builds her power base with the bosses, Liz finds herself wondering what’s really going on behind her back…

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About the author

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Jane Lythell worked as a TV producer for 15 years and her two novels Woman of the Hour and Behind her Back take the lid off the TV industry.

She has also written two other novels. After The Storm follows an English couple who get on a small boat with two American strangers to sail to an island after knowing them less then 24 hours. It has been described as Marine Noir, and her debut The Lie of You a portrait of obsession to the point of madness in which a woman tries to destroy her colleague.

Jane Lythell lives in Brighton in the UK and is a sea-lover, star-gazer, film and football fan. After years in television she moved to the British Film Institute as Deputy Director, did one year as Chief Executive of BAFTA (which was miserable) followed by seven years at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (which was interesting). She now writes full time.

Connect with Jane Lythell

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

Q & A

1. Can you tell me what Behind Her Back is about and why people should absolutely read your new novel?

It’s about backstabbing at the workplace and conflict with a teenage daughter at home. Liz Lyon is a respected but stressed TV producer who has to manage the huge egos of on-screen TV stars and a difficult boss at work. When she returns to her flat, which should be her haven, her daughter Flo gives her a hard time. When Liz starts dating again, Flo deeply resents the new man in her life. Meanwhile at work a new senior employee is making moves against Liz.

Read this if you like a relateable heroine facing work and home conflicts.

2. Your novels have such a realistic feel to them. Is there perhaps an overlap between fact and fiction? Are parts of this novel a bit biographical, like the doubts Liz has and her struggles with teenage daughter Flo?

Absolutely! I worked as a TV producer for fifteen years and was also a lone parent to my daughter. I struggled with this. It was hard to keep the balls up in the air and I felt torn by the competing pressures. Sometimes I felt that I wasn’t doing either role properly. I left working in TV when my daughter Amelia was nine-years-old. I wanted to explore this world and these pressures.

3. There are a lot of secrets and lies in your novel, which is great because nobody wants to read a novel where there’s nothing happening but I’d love to hear what is/was the best part working at a TV station?

There is a feverish and high tempo atmosphere in a TV station that broadcasts live shows and this can breed conflict and drama. The upside is that you feel you are at the centre of things that are happening in the country. You get to hear about books, films, trends and news events before anyone else and this can feel heady. There is also a great sense of camaraderie when the show goes well.

4. If given the choice, would you prefer working for a man or a woman and can you explain why ?

Difficult question because the best boss I ever worked for was a woman who was supportive, fair and generous. But the worst boss I ever worked for was also a woman who was controlling, divisive and did not share the information I needed to do my job! That was very miserable. So I think on balance that I would rather work for a man.

5. Your novels have a psychological side to them and show power games, vicious traits of people etc. Have you ever thought about writing a full-on psychological thriller going even further than you’ve taken it now?

My first two novels were psychological thrillers: The Lie of You and After The Storm. I am fascinated by the psychological states of my characters and like to get inside those characters’ heads so that the reader knows what is really going on as opposed to the image they present to the world. I’m interested in what tips a character into full-blown obsession. This is definitely an area I want to explore further in my books.

6. Is there going to be a third novel? What are your future projects?

There may well be a third Liz Lyon book as I can imagine more storylines about Liz, Julius, Fizzy and Ledley unfolding into the future. I’m very fond of the characters even though they often misbehave! However at the moment a new idea for a book is growing in my mind which I’m keen to develop. This idea is in psychological thriller territory so I may have to think about that next.

7. If you could have a wish come true, how would you like your future to look like? Any more dreams you have?

On a personal level I would love to travel more in South America. I have visited Buenos Aries, when I was working at the Foreign Office. It is such a beautiful city. I’d like to visit Brazil and Chile.

On the writing front I would be thrilled if any of my books made it onto the TV or film screen. My two psychological thrillers have been bought by a production company so fingers crossed.

Review

star three and a half

Behind Her Back is the sequel to Woman of the Hour and includes the same people as in the first novel, with the addition of one newcomer who promises to be the trouble maker of service. I’m talking about Lori, a new employee who waltzes into StoryWorld and does nothing short but take over the place. Her field of expertise is marketing and advertisement and it should stop there but Ms. Powerpoint has all sorts of brilliant ‘ideas’ and of course she gets her way every single time. She wheedles her way in the daily editorial meetings and she wants to have her say about everything. I guess everything can be proven with figures and charts but she certainly forgets about the human aspect, how everything was going smoothly before her arrival, and Liz will have to reconcile and appease different parties again. I don’t think you can blame Liz really for not warming up to her.

I really like the fact that this novel creates quite an intimate atmosphere by the way it was written, I had the impression I was almost reading Liz’ diary with her everyday troubles at work alternated with scenes of her home life. It wasn’t that at home it was all peachy either, she faces challenges on both fronts. I really felt for Liz, apart from her friend Fenton, she doesn’t have anyone to really unwind with. I was happy to see there was some romance in the air but the guy works at a rival station so can you really unburden yourself when he could be using it against you? Is he even really interested in her or more in the scoop about what is going on behind the scenes at StoryWorld ? I was left wondering about that and hoped Liz would be cautious. This led me to wonder as well if their relation would and could survive the fact that she couldn’t open up completely.

It didn’t take but a few pages to be plunged back into the pitpool of egos, and my god do those presenters have egos!, they have egos the size of a country and they have to be handled very carefully. In a very natural evolution there came to be two camps in this novel, camp Fizzy and camp Ledley. Although Ledley had his shortcomings and wasn’t playing fair at some point, I was on his side from the beginning. I felt he didn’t deserve to be treated this way and I came short to acknowledging that Liz really favoured presenter Fizzy, even if it meant grudgingly agreeing Lori had a valid point here. Fizzy is called the ‘Queen of Live TV’ but I didn’t like that she was being placed on such a pedestal. Not to say anything but she was a weather girl in the past so I didn’t understand the special treatment. It bothered me, even though I believe this must be something that is just a given in the tv world. I also didn’t feel much motherly love between Fizzy and her son Zachery which was a shame and only added to my unsympathetic feelings towards her.

Liz is a normal woman facing life’s hardships on her own, she’s a woman who cries and shouts too, she’s not a superwoman like so many heroines in books lately, so this was definitely refreshing to read. If you like to see how her life unfolds with ups and downs and get a little peek at the inner workings of the entertainment section of a TV station, you’ll enjoy this novel, it feels all too realistic. As Behind Her Back offers a little recap here and there about what happened in the first novel, I’d advise to read that one first if you’re interested, although this one can certainly be read as a standalone as well.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, Head of Zeus, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Check out the other blogstops too. Up tomorrow : Cosmochiklitan

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Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown #BlogTour #GuestPost #Giveaway

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Title: Little Gray Dress
Author: Aimee Brown
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
GoodReads: add Little Gray Dress to your to be read list

Book Blurb

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another when she least expects it?

AmazonUS: eBook – $2.99 | print – $9.99

AmazonUK: eBook – £1.99| print – £6.99

Barnes & Noble: print – $9.99

I have the cutest Giveaway for the tour – pictured here <– & opened worldwide.

Included is a ‘create’ coffee cup, some dark & handsome K-cup pods, a cute Life is Short, Eat Cake wall art, some tiny macaroons, a Little Gray Dress bookmark & postcard!

Enter here:

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Aimee Brown is a writer and an avid reader. Little Gray Dress is her first published novel. My second novel is in the works now. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal.

Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets.

She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you’d like to chat with her she’s very active on social media. You can find her at any of the networks below. Stop by and say hello!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Website/Blog | GoodReads | Amazon Page | Newsletter

Guestpost

Writers Block is my Arch Enemy

I’ve never experienced something more terrifying than a blank page. Once I get to about 20k words things go easier for me than when I’m staring at a blank page. It’s not even necessarily writer’s block completely, but more the fear or the wrong opening.

So many times I’ve read about how important your first sentence, first page, and first chapter are in a book. That’s your hook. If you can’t hook a reader in the first few pages, they may not continue. It’s stressful!

When I open a book to a bunch of back story or ‘setting’ info, it loses me immediately. Or a prologue! Those are the worst. Holy hell, just make it a chapter if it’s so important.

If I open to a conversation, I immediately feel as if I’m in the middle of the story right from the first sentence. That’s my intent as a writer. To always start so you immediately feel immersed in whatever is going on. It’s not always that easy though.

Sometimes I can start a story and feel like right from the first line that it’s the right opening. Considering I’ve only got one book out though, clearly I delete more than I keep. Getting past the first few chapters is at times, a challenge for me. Investing myself in a story I’m not completely happy with the opening, is unheard of for me. If I’m not happy with the first chapter, I absolutely can not move on. It’s my set up. That’s the moment I have to make sure you as a reader choose to continue reading what I’ve written.

It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes that pressure can result in me staring at a blank screen for hours on end. Or worse yet, filling the screen with words and then ultimately deleting them because I’ve decided I hate them.

For some authors, I’m sure it’s easier to commit and keep whatever they write. Writer’s block or some form of it has maybe never made an appearance in their life. I’m jealous. It seems to be my arch enemy or rather, maybe my kryptonite. Sometimes, I feel crippled by it. Sometimes, writer’s block manages to convince me that I’m the worst writer in the world. Other times, I hit back, tell it off and stomp on it on the way to my destination. That’s rarer than me giving up and walking away hoping to start again ‘tomorrow’.

Writer’s block has claimed ten years of my tomorrows and now that I’ve tackled it, I’m determined to not let it steal any more days from me. Commitment and determination are the two hardest traits for me to overcome. I constantly change my mind. I daren’t read Little Gray Dress now that it’s out or I’ll wonder how I ever got published. I can’t be the only one like this? Surely more writers than just myself struggle with a blank page?

My only advice for writer’s block is this… don’t think about it, just write. No one needs to see your first draft. You can include anything and fix it later. It’s easier to edit a disaster of a first draft, but not as easy to edit a blank page. If you’re anything like me though, don’t reread what you’ve written until you are completely finished, just continue on and fix things later. Farewell writer’s block, I’m going to X you out.

Check out the other blog stops too! Tomorrow:

Book Lover in Florida with an excerpt!

Weds – August 2nd

Blog on the Run – Book Review/Author Guest Post after 2nd
Books and Photographs – Book Review
Judging More Than Just the Cover – Book Review/Author Interview
Nicole Evelina – Book Review/Guest Post
The Novel Girl Reads – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Thurs – August 3rd

Chick Lit Central – Author Interview
NovelGossip – Book Review
Hey Said Renee – Author Guest Post
Romantic Reads and Such – Book Excerpt
Steamy Book Mama – Book Review

Fri – August 4th

BrizzleLass Books – Book Review
O.D. Book Reviews – Book Excerpt
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post
Corinne Desjardins – Book Spotlight
Where Dragons Recide – Book Review/Author Q&A

Sat – August 5th

JenaBooks – Book Review
Sylv.net – Spotlight Post
Got Books, Babe? – Author Guest Post
The Writing Garnet – Book Review

Sun – August 6th

I Read Novels – Book Review
It’s my Life – Book Excerpt
RaeReads – Book Review
Keelee Morris – Author Guest Post
GrassMonster – Book Review

Mon – August 7th

Living Life with Joy – Book Review/Giveaway/Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer – Author Guest Post
Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt
Haddie’s Heaven – Spotlight Post
Books in my Opinion – Book Review
Literature Goals – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Tue – August 8th

Reading to Unwind – Book Review
Kristin’s Novel Café – Book Excerpt & Giveaway/Book Review
Key of Dee – Author Guest Post
FrankyBrown – Book Excerpt
Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Book Reviews (3)

Weds – August 9th

Ink, Maps and Macarons – Giveaway/Author Q&A
Heartalefix – Book Review
Tea Party Princess – Author Guest Post/(possible) Review
One Book at a Time – Book Excerpt/Spotlight/Book Review

Thurs – August 10th

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review/Excerpt
Rosa Temple Writes – Author Guest Post
Life at 17 – Spotlight Post
Daily Waffle – Book Excerpt/Author Q&A

Fri – August 11th

Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review
Sparkly Word – Book Review
Books and Readers – Book Review/Excerpt/Giveaway/Guest Post
Ali the Dragon Slayer – Book Review
Katie Lady Reads – Book Review
Rambling Lisa’s Book Reviews – Book Review/Book Excerpt

Sat – August 12th

Life of a Simple Reader – Book Review/Excerpt
Karlita – Goodreads/Social Media – Book Review
KD Reads – Book Review/Giveaway/Guest Post
D.K. Hamilton – Book Review/Author Q&A
20CC Reviews – Book Review
TrashyBibloBlog – Book Review/Excerpt

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Brothers and Sisters by Adele O’Neill #BlogTour #Guestpost

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About the book

Nothing remains buried forever… What would you do to protect the ones you love?

A gripping, highly emotive story of love, survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty. Perfect for the fans of Kathryn Hughes and Dorothy Koomson.

When human remains are found on Fitzpatrick Estate, Detective Kelly is drawn deep into the complex web of Fitzpatrick family secrets as Timothy and his sister Rose, now in their sixties, are catapulted into the centre of the investigation.

When the pathology report identifies the remains as that of their uncle, Patrick Fitzpatrick, missing from Fitzpatrick Estate since 1970, they scramble to protect their past.

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

Buy links

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play

About Adele O’Neill

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Having lived and worked in the UK and Dublin since college, Adele now lives in her hometown of Arklow, Co. Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She writes overlooking the Irish Sea and is an active member of the Wexford Literary Festival committee.

Follow Adele

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Guestpost

When your Characters have a mind of their own

When I first began to write Brothers and Sisters and the dark tale of sibling loyalty and the lengths we would go to, to protect the ones we love, I had a plan. A well-researched plan that brought me from the depths of Kilkenny checking the acidity of the soil to the corporate offices of London and Dublin, and plenty of other places in between. My characters were imagined and created with detail and purpose, the perfect narrators of a story that spanned five decades. My plot was riddled with impossible choices that resulted in devastating outcomes. All the makings of an un-put-down-able story, what can be the problem with that, I hear you say?

My characters decided how the story was going to end, that’s the problem. The devastating outcome that I spoke about and the perfectly planned and meticulously plotted ending that I had imagined wasn’t happening all because my characters had a say.

Liken it if you will to the development of your child. The parent being the author and the character being the child.  You plan and fantasise about how wonderful they will be, you anticipate their arrival with excited musings of their future. You nurture and nourish them, investing your time and energy giving them every chance to become fully formed contributing individuals and then one day, everything you have hoped for them, everything you have wished for them happens, they become independent, will-full thinkers, the architects of their own destiny. My characters grew and developed a mind of their own, they had a plan for how this story was to unfold and who was I to tell them otherwise.

Normally, the writing process for me is planned, organised and researched. Before I place a finger on the keyboard, I like to know who I’m working with. What my character’s motivations are, what they like and don’t like and where their limits lie just so I can push them a little past it. I like to know where the characters are coming from and where they’re going to end up so when Rose and her brother Tim had other ideas for the devastating outcome and who was going to be on the receiving end of it, I was as surprised as I hope all the readers of Brothers and Sisters will be. I shouldn’t complain though, it was their loyalty to each other, the loyalty and bond that I imagined for them that put us on this detour.

If I had one piece of advice to other writers it is this; listen to what your characters have to say, you may be as surprised as you want your reader to be!

Follow Aria

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Take a look at the other tour stops too! Tomorrow: Love Books Group

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I Have Never by Camilla Isley #BlogTour #Excerpt

Welcome to my blog stop! I’m delighted to share with you Chapter 1 of this wonderful romantic novel I Have Never where we’re introduced to Blair and her ‘P&P’ expectations for the day ;-).

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Title: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…

A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

 

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad. She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

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One

Never Make a Scene

The day it all goes wrong starts as a more or less ordinary one. My fit watch startles me awake at dawn and, forty minutes later, notifies me I’ve run five miles through Central Park. A perfect six-minute-per-mile time.

Back at Gerard’s apartment, he’s still asleep. I peel off my sweaty clothes, take a quick shower, and wake Sleeping Boyfriend with a kiss and the aroma of French-pressed mocha.

“Morning, sleepy head,” I say affectionately.

“What time is it?” he asks, still groggy.

“Six-thirty, time to go.”

Gerard groans and shuffles out of bed. We eat breakfast in the kitchen listening to the morning news. Me wearing a towel; him in boxer shorts.

Fifteen minutes later, I brush crumbs off my lips and get up. “I’ve better get going, big day today!”

“Oh, right. The announcement for the new junior editor is today.”

“Yes, this morning.”

“Nervous?”

“Positive,” I say, showing more confidence than I feel.

“Listen, babe,” Gerard says, jaw twitching. A sign he’s worried. “Why don’t we go out tonight to… mmm… celebrate?” He’s being awkward. Why is he so tense? “I want to talk to you about something important.”

Something important? Is Gerard finally going to propose? After three years together, it’s about time.

I smile slyly. “Sure, dinner out sounds amazing.”

P&P. Promotion and proposal all in one day. This is going to be the best day of my life.

“Now I really have to get ready for the office.” I kiss Gerard’s forehead. “Text me when you’ve made a reservation, yeah?”

He nods, and I waltz into his room to change. Many people hate their jobs, but I love mine. Well, not exactly the job I have—advertising—but the job I could have starting today. Junior Fashion Editor of Évoque Magazine, the top female media brand in the world. Marketing was just my way in—an editorial position has always been the end goal.

Unfortunately, almost everyone else working at Évoque shares this dream. But I still hope to beat the odds. Annabelle Visser, our Editor-in-Chief—yeah, the mean devil wearing Prada—more than hinted that sales numbers will have a weight in the decision. Since joining Évoque five years ago, I’ve worked like a slave to become the star of my department. So if not written in stone, my promotion has at least been stitched in silk.

On all fours, I retrieve my sleepover bag from under Gerard’s bed. One of my chief rules in relationships is don’t move in without a ring. So whenever I spend the night at Gerard’s house, I bring the essentials and leave nothing behind. This duffle bag is like an extra limb.

I shove my dirty running gear in a separate tote bag, then change into the working clothes I brought over: a black leather pencil skirt and emerald blouse that makes my green eyes pop. To intensify the effect, I shadow my eyelids to get that smoky look. At the office, exceptionally prim grooming comes with the territory and is expected of every employee.

Makeup done, I pull my natural strawberry red hair up in an intentionally messy bun, put on a bold shade of red lipstick, and wink at my image.

I’m the picture of a young, successful woman ready to conquer the fashion world.

From Gerard’s Park Avenue condo, I can walk to work. The weather’s perfect, and the late spring breeze only adds to my good mood. I wear foldable flats up to the edge of Central Park and then switch gears: plastic ballerinas for gel-cushioned pumps. I never show myself in public without heels. Not since that time when I went to Six Flags in my twenties wearing sneakers, and an attendant asked to check my height before he allowed me on a ride. For the record, I was a good six inches above the minimum.

In front of my office’s skyscraper, I pause for a second to admire the building. Working at Northwestern, the publishing powerhouse of Manhattan, always gives me a thrill of pride. This is the place everyone wants to be. The building itself screams luxury and power from every glass panel and metal joint.

Ahead of me, the automatic doors sweep open, a strong, cool draft tightening my pencil skirt against my legs. Even the air feels expensive. As usual, I’m the first one in. Good. I always enjoy working in the quiet hours of the morning.

I stuff my duffle bag out of sight under my desk and turn on my laptop.

Will HR call me? Or will it be my new boss? This is the first time I’ve been promoted to a different department, so I’m not sure if the procedure is similar to same-department promotions. In the past, my current boss always delivered the news, but since I’ll no longer work for her…

My landline trills, jolting me out of my thoughts.

I inhale, exhale, and then answer. “Blair Walker, Évoque Magazine.”

“Miss Walker, this is Emilia Peterson from Human Resources. Please come up to my office right away.”

“Absolutely, I’ll be there in two minutes.”

Emilia is our Talent Manager Coordinator—and she wants to see me. With a cheek-aching smile on my face, I rush to the elevators.

One floor up, I knock on Emilia’s door, my stomach knotting in anticipation.

A muffled voice comes from behind the panel wall. “Come in.”

If voices could be described as lipstick shades, Emilia’s would be a Chanel Rouge. Suave. Confident.

I step into the office. Emilia—tall, platinum blonde, and lethally thin—lifts her icy gaze from some papers and says, “Ah, Blair. Please close the door and sit down.” She gestures at the white chair in front of her white desk. Cold blue eyes settle on me. “Would you like some water?”

More some champagne. “No, thanks. I’m good.”

“Very well, let’s get straight to it.” She folds her hands and sighs. “As you know, the position of Junior Fashion Editor was extremely coveted…”

Was? Is it mine now? I can’t wait for her to say it, but I politely let her continue with her perfunctory speech. I can wait a few more minutes before I ask about the pay rise and extra benefits.

“…the race was tight, and you were an honorable runner-up…”

I nod my approval before my thoughts screech to a halt. Wait, what? Isn’t this the part where she congratulates me and assigns me a new corporate phone? I was really hoping to get the new iPhone.

“What do you mean runner-up?”

“I mean you were an outstanding candidate.”

“But not the winner?” My voice isn’t nearly as steady as I’d like it to be—it projects a 99cents lip balm at best, regardless of the actual shade I’m wearing.

“Unfortunately, no. You didn’t get the position,” Emilia confirms, never taking her eyes off me.

“Who?”

“It doesn’t really matter—”

“It does matter. Annabelle herself said sales figures would count toward the final decision. My numbers are better than everybody else’s!”

“Your numbers are good, but not the best.”

“No other sales manager signed as many contracts as I did this past year. I’ve put in more overtime and weekends to make sure of that. No one beats my numbers.”

“Someone did,” Emilia insists, her tone severe.

“Who?” I ask again.

For the first time, the corporate witch lowers her gaze, a shadow of guilt crossing her face. “Aurora.”

“Aurora?” I repeat. “But her figures are awful!”

Emilia looks at me again, impassible. “One of her long-standing clients increased their expenditure considerably… it tipped the balance in her favor.” Again, I sense she’s holding something back.

Comprehension hits me. “You mean her mother bought the editor position for her!”

Aurora’s mother, Rebecca Vanderbilt, is an iconic fashion designer with the power of old and new money combined. I never stood a chance against that kind of firepower.

“I know it might seem unfair…”

Are my ears functioning? Is our dear Talent Manager Coordinator trying to deny the injustice?

“Because it is unfair,” I say, “You’re ignoring the best employee to promote the one with a pedigree.”

Emilia’s nostrils flare. “We’re promoting the employee who brought the magazine the most business, regardless of how they got it.”

No point in arguing further. It’s clear the decision is irrevocable. Emilia’s immaculate white desk blinds me as I fight the tears threatening to shed. I take a few moments to steady myself before asking, “Is that all, am I free to go?”

“I understand you want to get this over with. You’ll see we’ve put together an extremely generous severance package…” Emilia switches to a brisk, down-to-business tone so quickly it dizzies me.

“Severance?” I repeat.

“Yes. This might seem like a setback at first, but I’m really doing you a favor here.”

“A favor?” I sound like a talking parrot, only able to repeat the words I’m hearing.

“Yes. Advertising is not your field. You don’t like marketing, and I don’t know when there’ll be another editorial position available.”

“Why are you firing me?” I ask, still in disbelief.

“Motivation is an important aspect of your job, and you wouldn’t be able to bring your best effort to the table after today.”

“Is it just me, or are all the other applicants being fired as well?

“Some other senior advertisers are being let go. Of course, I can’t disclose their names,” she says without batting an eyelid. “As I said, motivation is key—”

“Meaning you can no longer dangle the carrot of an editor position in our faces to have us slave for you day after day. What’s next? Are you hiring college grads to string them along instead?”

“Your replacement does not concern you.”

“Oh gosh, that’s exactly what you’re doing!” I nearly shriek. “Are you trying to run for worst employer of the year?” The words leave my mouth before I can swallow them back.

“No, Blair, we run a business. I thought you were sensible enough to know that. And honestly, I expected you to behave like a professional. If anything, this behavior just wiped away any regrets we might have had about not promoting you. Really, Blair. There’s no need to make a scene.”

Those last words slap me harder than if she’d actually hit me. Making petty scenes goes against my creed, against my list of dos and don’ts. The list that’s helped to keep me focused on my life goals and out of trouble since I was a teenager. I carry it wherever I go; it’s the secret to my success. Until now, anyway. With Emilia’s words still ringing in my ears, I picture the number one item on the list: never make a scene.

That thought is enough to bring me back from blind rage to controlled fury. Emilia’s right, I don’t need to humiliate myself any further. I’m going to leave in a dignified way and my head held high.

I school my expression into one of neutrality as Emilia slides a brown envelope over her stupidly white desk and taps it. “In here you’ll find all the info about our offer. Please review it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.”

I take the manila envelope without opening it.

“I’m sure you did the best you could,” I say. No point in trying to negotiate a better deal. When you get the ax, Évoque Magazine gives you what they deem fair and not a cent more. “Is that all?”

“Yes. It’s understandable if you want to leave before everyone else gets in. A security officer will escort you back to your desk to collect your belongings and will take your security pass on the way out.”

Security, seriously? Are they afraid I’ll steal a Birkin on my way out?

“Very well. Goodbye, Emilia,” I say in the most civil tone I can muster.

Outside the office, a guard is already waiting for me. With a deep breath, I prepare myself for the most humiliating fifteen minutes of my life.

***

“You didn’t get the promotion.” Gerard’s mouth hangs open. “I really wanted you to get it.”

Oh? When did he start caring so much about my career? Being a corporate lawyer, he always seems so focused on his job. But the concern in his eyes is genuine and so sweet.

“Me, too, honey.” I take his hand across the restaurant table. “But I don’t want to ruin our night brooding over my lost job.” I spent the entire day crying, curled in a ball on my couch, and only the prospect of tonight kept me sane.

Gerard looks aghast. “I thought this would be the best day to tell you… that you’d be happy…”

He’s worried my job’s demise is going to ruin his proposal. “You can tell me anything,” I reassure him. “It doesn’t matter what happened at work. We can talk about whatever it is you wanted to discuss.” Or you could just give me the diamond ring and be done with it. “I won’t be sad, I promise.”

Gerard frowns. “I’m afraid you will be.”

“Be what?”

“Sad.”

“Sad?” He has it all wrong. Wedding planning is exactly the kind of distraction I need from the pile of CVs I’ll have to send to find a new job. Right, let’s focus on the half of my life still going according to plan. “Why would I be sad?”

“Blair.” Gerard sighs. “I think we should take a break.”

“A break?”

The talking parrot is making a comeback.

“Yeah, we should see other people.”

“Other people?”

“Yes, I’m not sure we’re compatible.”

I blink. “After three years?”

He nods. “Yes, you’ll agree w—”

I narrow my eyes at him. “Who is she?”

“S-she? There’s no one else,” Gerard stutters defensively.

“Is it Laura?”

After endless arguments about my “unwarranted” jealousy for his secretary, I’m not going to pull any punches.

Gerard shakes his head frantically. “No.”

Still, he dares to deny it.

“You’re lying,” I hiss. “How long have you been screwing her?”

“It’s not like that.” His entire face turns red. “We’re…”

“What? In love?” I scoff. “An affair with your secretary—seriously? You’re such a cliché.”

“Blair, lower your voice. People are staring.”

I sweep the room with my eyes and, indeed, more than a couple of heads have turned our way.

“Am I embarrassing you, Gerard? Is that why you brought me to this nice restaurant to talk, so we’d be in a public space?”

“Blair, we can discuss our problems like the two civil adults we are. There’s no need to make a scene.”

No. Need. To. Make. A. Scene.

My head begins spinning, filled with a whirlwind of memories. My mother admonishing me whenever I threw a tantrum: “Blair, a well-educated young woman should always behave properly. We don’t make public scenes. That’s not what we do.”

I remember the speech my ballet instructor gave me when I didn’t get the lead role in The Swan Lake: “Blair, real ballerinas take setbacks with their heads held high. They don’t make scenes.”

Emilia this morning. Gerard now.

The vortex stops on a clear image of the list’s number one item: never make a scene.

It’s all been for nothing. All the sacrifices I made. All the times I said, “No,” to anything even remotely fun. All the lost opportunities… to live rather than just behave. The list, my secret recipe for success, is worthless. At twenty-nine, what do I have to show for it? Nothing. No job. No boyfriend. Everyone thinks they can walk all over good old Blair because she’s too polite to say anything. No more.

Rage takes over. My fury bubbles up and I vomit years of repressed feelings and self-imposed restraints on Gerard. “A scene? You don’t want me to make a scene?” I get up and throw my napkin on the table. “Well, guess what! You’re out of luck.”

“Blair, don’t—”

“Why?” I scream. “So you can run to your office’s side dish with a clean conscience?”

“Don’t talk about Laura that way. I won’t allow it!”

“Do you prefer boyfriend-stealing bitch?”

Everyone in the room is staring at us now.

Gerard’s ears turn a deeper shade of red. “Blair, please sit down, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

“I’ve nothing to be embarrassed about,” I yell. “I’m not a cheating, lying bastard! Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause for Gerard Wakefield and his mistress, the secretary, Laura.”

A server arrives at our table and stares at us, perplexed. “Spaghetti Marinara?”

In a crazy impulse, I say, “Mine.” I grab the plate and before I know what I’m doing, I tip it over Gerard’s head. “How’s this for a scene, Gerry dear?”

Gerard shoots to his feet, his head, face, and suit dripping marinara. “You crazy bitch!” he shouts, dabbing the sauce off his face with his napkin. “It’s hot sauce! You could’ve blinded me. I’ll sue you for this.”

“Please do,” I shout back. “But be prepared to fight me in court. I’m sure the managing partners at your firm will be thrilled to learn of your extracurricular activities with their employee. They’ll fire you on the spot!”

That shuts him up. Gerard opens and closes his mouth like a gaping fish. To stare at his spaghetti marinara-covered head would almost be funny, if the situation wasn’t so tragic.

With one last glare, I storm out of the restaurant. Utterly lost and with no idea where I’m going, I run outside into the night. Oh, it felt so good to let it all out. Gerard’s spaghetti-splattered head flashes before my eyes again and I can’t help but laugh. A crazy, hysterical, uncontrollable laugh. Not being in control is great. Not holding back is fantastic. I should’ve done it a long time ago. I should’ve done so many things. All my life, I’ve had it backward. I’ve spent years caged behind the bars of the list, never allowing myself a moment of fun. That’s over. The list’s regime ends now.

I fish the page out of its honorific pocket in my bag and do a quick scan of all the taboos there.

“You’re a fraud,” I accuse it. “You’re a useless piece of nonsense.”

Years spent always being good, always being in control, always working hard—and for what? I have nothing.

My first instinct is to tear the sorry piece of paper into a million pieces, but a more powerful, self-destructive impulse takes over. Tearing the list is not enough; I need to completely overthrow it! Each line, each forbiddance, each bit of life I’ve denied myself will be experienced, starting tonight!

I scan all the don’ts in search of something stupid and reckless. My eyes stop on a vicious-looking set of words. I nod. It’s as good a start as any, and I can tackle it right away.

Check out the full tour-
July 13th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A

A Beautiful Book Blog – Book Review

Writing Pearls – Book Review

With Love For Books – Book Review

For the Love of Chick Lit – Book Review

July 14th

 

Kristin’s Novel Cafe – Book Excerpt

JenaBooks – Book Review

He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post

Judging More than Just the Cover – Author Q&A

July 15th

I Heart Fictional People – Book Review

Chrissi Reads – Book Review

Books and Photographs – Book Review

Rebecca Book Review – Book Excerpt

Monique McDonell-Author – Book Excerpt

July 16th

One Book At A Time – Spotlight Post

CosyCuteKnits – Book Review

The Writing Garnet – Book Review

July 17th

The Belgian Reviewer – Book Excerpt

Girl vs Books – Book Review

kraftireader – Book Review

July 18th

Reading Is My SuperPower – Book Review

THE CHLOE DOUGLAS BLOG – Book Review

July 19th
 

Simona’s Corner of Dreams – Author Guest Post

Bookish – Book Review

July 20th

TheBlossomTwins – Book Review

Grass Monster – Book Review

Chick Lit Central – Author Q&A

Living Life with Joy – Author Guest Post

July 21st

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review

Rae Reads – Book Review

Novelgossip – Book Review

Whispering Stories – Book Review

Ali – The Dragon Slayer – Book Review

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts – Book Review

Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt

July 22nd

BookLoverWorm – Book Review

Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review

Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

 

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Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

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What’s it about?

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

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Atria Paperback | ISBN: 9781501133381 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $16.00
Atria eBook | ISBN: 9781501133398 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $7.99

Giveaway

K.A. Tucker and Simon & Schuster are giving away 5 signed paperback copies of this brand new novel! 

All you have to do is ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

About the author

K.A. Tucker

 

K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

 

Connect with the author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review

star three and a half

I read two novels by K.A. Tucker in the past, and still have fond memories of reading those to this day, so I didn’t have to think twice when I saw an opportunity to read her newest novel Until It Fades. Its promise of some swoonworthy romance was everything I wanted to hear. Her other novels also have plenty of romance but this one definitely is a little different and a bit of a lighter read, she says so herself in the acknowledgements.

The worlds of the two main characters couldn’t be further apart, one of them is constantly in the spotlight and the other tries to avoid all public attention. Catherine was the talk of town at the age of 17, a time she really doesn’t want to be reminded of and she’s quite happy that everyone has moved along and the attention has faded. Agreeing to one (bad) date changes everything though because on her way back home she becomes a witness to a car accident. When she gets home a media storm breaks out because the guy she helped out of the car is a famous hockey-star, Brett Madden. She tries to keep her identity a secret because she really doesn’t want any attention on her person but Brett is determined to find the woman who saved him. When he does, he finds more than he was looking for. But will this fairytale stay or will it fade?

I really liked Catherine, besides from being a heroine, she’s such a strong person in general and I enjoyed reading about her past, it was given a lot of attention and made me really get to know where she was was coming from. She’s not had an easy life but she’s positive and she made it all by herself. I really liked Brett as well, he’s rich, very rich but stays grounded and he’s considerate, caring and of course very yummy, but the person I liked perhaps most of all was Brenna. She’s a feisty 6-year old who always knows the right things to say and holds more wisdom in her little body than you could imagine.

This novel was definitely a slow-burn in the romance department but I wouldn’t necessary call it a bad thing that Catherine took her time. With all that she’s been through it would only be odd if she were to jump right in. She has learned to protect her heart and you can’t just let your guard down after someone’s giving you a few crooked smiles, right?

This novel is most of all about a girl who has learned a lot already in her young life and is trying to trust people again, it’s about how deep her family and friendship ties run in the end, it’s heart-warming and a fun read. Maybe, and this is just the smallest remark, I might have missed a little more drama and a few surprises along the way. There was one intended twist but I knew how that was going to play out right from the start really. I was really curious though what the consequences would be when this would have to be explained but as I said, there’s a lot of love and friendship to go round in this one.

This was a sweet and lovely story, maybe a tad less memorable than her other novels, but with the same easy and enjoyable writing and a cast of lovely characters that are her signature style.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay #BlogTour #BookReview

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What’s it about?

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her?

Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

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About the author

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Connect with the author

Twitter | Facebook | Website

Review

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I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today and I can tell you that Orenda Books has published a novel that has that little nugget of originality yet again. You will be surprised, I can’t think of anything other to say.

The Other Twin is an intriguing investigation into India’s death by her sister Poppy. She conducts her own search into her sister’s past to find out who her sister really was and if it was even plausible that she commited suicide. It was difficult to find out much about India because she removed her digital presence on all social media but there is one person, someone tagged in a picture as Penny, who seemed close to her and who might know more. But how to find that person is nearly impossible. In the present days social media can be a real source but you can also dissapear if you want. Poppy didn’t really know her sister like she thought she did by the looks of it.

The depth of the secrets and lies in this novel is mountain high and I simply couldn’t fathom the scale of it until I almost got to the end. Poppy runs into a wall everywhere she turns and everyone, even in her own family, keeps their lips pressed together. Maybe they know, maybe they don’t but it won’t keep her from trying even harder. Even though I didn’t know anything – there’s no reader’s advantage here, I was as much in the dark as Poppy was – I just had to keep on reading because the writing was addictive and the mystery kept me in its grip. I had a sense of unease while reading this but I had no idea where this story was going to lead. I loved how unexpected the truth turned out to be. It was staring me in the eyes and I simply didn’t recognize it, understand it, see it. If you want to read this story I would advise you not to read too many reviews though because some are bound to give some spoilers and that would just take away all the fun and would in fact most certainly have an impact on your own rating.

This was a great debut which I am happy to recommend to all readers who enjoy the psychological thriller genre.

I received a free copy of this novel from the author L V Hay, publisher OrendaBooks and tour organiser Anne Cater in exchange for my honest opinion.

Check out the other blog stops as well. I’m sharing today with
Thoughts of a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Tomorrow is not to be missed either at :
Chocolate’n’ Waffles and Rae Reads

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The Château of Happily Ever Afters by Jamie Admans #BlogTour #Excerpt #Giveaway

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What’s it about?

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Château of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

Escape to beautiful France this summer with this uplifting romantic comedy. Perfect for fans of Kat French, Caroline Roberts, and Holly Martin.

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About Jamie Admans

Author PhotoJaimie is a 32-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.

 

She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of chick-lit romantic comedies The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters and Kismetology, and she has also written young-adult romantic comedies Afterlife Academy, Not Pretty Enough, and North Pole Reform School.

Author links

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway time!!!

Giveaway Photo

  • French-themed stationery goodie bag
  • 1 x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen
  • 1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook
  • 1 x little Eiffel Tower model
  • 1 x Eiffel Tower bookmark
  • 1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet
  • 1 x Signed postcard

Enter the giveaway HERE

Excerpt

‘Mrs Beauchene also left, er, somewhat of a riddle in her will. She requested that a copy of it be given to both parties.’ He hands me and Nephew-git a sheet of paper each, more words scrawled by Eulalie. ‘Allow me to read it?’ He barrels on ahead without waiting for an answer. I get the impression he wants us out of his office.

The Château of Happily Ever Afters is not just a house, or a home, or a castle.

There is magic in the walls, and there is treasure too.

Treasure at the property just waiting to be found. When you find it, you will be rich enough that you will never have to worry about anything again.

But the château will show treasure to you only when you are ready to see it.

It will only commit to you when you commit to it.

It gives the owners what they need but not what they want. It will give them what they need before they know they need it and what they want before they know they want it.

It is yours to find.

The solicitor is reading aloud from a copy as I read Eulalie’s once-neat handwriting, which had become shaky with age.

‘Treasure?’ Nephew-git sits forward. I can almost see pound signs pinging down behind his blue eyes.

‘She was in her nineties,’ the solicitor says. ‘People tend to drop a few marbles by that age, I wouldn’t pay any attention.’

I glare at him. Eulalie hadn’t lost any marbles. Admittedly, going on about treasure and magical walls from beyond the grave is not quite the most sensible thing she’s ever done, but still. She wasn’t a barmy old bat, she just had a vivid imagination. And maybe it was less imaginary than I thought. If the château is real, and Eulalie’s husband really was a duke, what else is real?

‘Mrs Beauchene also entrusted my firm with the key.’ The solicitor holds up a purple satin bag. ‘Which one of you will take it?’

Fake-nephew springs forward with his palm open. ‘I will.’

Sudden rage overtakes the shock I’ve felt since I came in here. ‘No, you won’t. It’s not yours. Eulalie left it to me, only me, right?’ I say to the solicitor without taking my eyes off the horrible McBeath, who holds my gaze with one perfectly plucked eyebrow raised.

‘Yes, but due to this loophole in French-English law, Mr McBeath has an equal right—’

‘I don’t care.’ I narrow my eyes at Nephew-git. He can only be in his late thirties, but his smart suit makes him look older. His dark hair is smooth with hair product and he looks like he’s trying too hard to look stylish. No one is naturally that polished. ‘She didn’t even know you. It doesn’t matter if there’s any truth in what you say. If this château is what I think it is then it meant the world to her. She loved the place, and she wouldn’t want someone she’d never even met to have it. She chose to leave it to me.’

He fiddles with his navy satin tie. ‘But I have a loophole.’